TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The Chilean environmental regulatory authority Superintendence of the Environment (SMA) has taken a resolution to start a legal process to force Canadian miner Kinross Gold’s subsidiary Compañía Minera Maricunga (CMM) to close the Maricunga mine's water pumping wells located in the Pantanillo area of Region III.
TSX- and NYSE-listed Kinross said on Monday that the Maricunga mine continued to operate normally for now, but relied solely on water from Pantanillo wells to support its operations.
“CMM disagrees with the allegations on which the resolution is based, and intends to defend itself vigorously. As noted by the SMA in issuing the resolution, procedurally the closure order of the pumping wells must still be presented to and upheld by the Environmental Tribunal, in Santiago,” Kinross stated.
It added that the SMA had publicly stated its intention to seek an unprecedented expedited injunction, which CMM similarly planned to oppose.
Kinross noted that CMM had taken many measures and performed several studies over the years to understand the causes of the current situation and mitigate, as appropriate and permitted, any impacts of its water use.
“Kinross wishes to also underscore that the Atacama region has suffered from a protracted drought for many years, resulting in a drop in groundwater levels across the region that is unrelated to CMM's operations,” the company advised.
Kinross acquired its original 50% interest in the Maricunga openpit mine (formerly known as the Refugio mine), located 120 km north-east of Copiapó, in 1998. On February 27, 2007, Kinross acquired the remaining 50% interest in Maricunga through the acquisition of Bema Gold.
In 2015, Maricunga produced 212 155 oz of gold equivalent.